Page 1 of 1

NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2018 11:32 pm
by Kinetic
Is the convention to pronounce numbers 3, 4, 5 as TREE, FOWER, FIFE still practiced, - and if so, to what extend?

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 1:30 am
by Kinetic
Perhaps I should have introduced the matter differently, naming it the ICAO alphabet, and asking why standard English pronunciation is heard everywhere these days.
Since I'm not flying around the globe, I'd be curious, if there are some places where it is in use.

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:09 am
by AA737-823
In my limited experience, no. The numbers are simply pronounced as in regular speaking.
You'll sometimes hear NINER, and you sometimes just hear nine. That's the exception.
I think that with a globalized language pool, it became very much impractical to expect a specific, nuanced pronunciation of a non-native number system for so many varieties of pilots.
But I don't know for sure.

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 2:31 am
by Kinetic
Thanks.
Your explanation seems plausible. The increasing variety might have appeared to complicated, if not impossible, and therefore impracticable to be standardized .
NINER for 9, still being in use, derives from distinguishing it from German 'Nein', being pronounced just the same, meaning 'no'.
But still, it might be a rudiment.

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 3:33 am
by GalaxyFlyer
Useful on HF transmissions, but they’re a dying element of aviation.

GF

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 5:12 am
by Tartarus
The Oztronauts down in Australia still use that pronunciation. Along with "day-se-mal".

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 6:06 am
by Nomadd
It's always funny to hear a frequency pronounced as "one twenty one dot eight" now.

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 6:13 am
by LH707330
Nomadd wrote:
It's always funny to hear a frequency pronounced as "one twenty one dot eight" now.

That's awesome. I hear that from Canadian controllers as well. I usually hear "One two one point eight" around my area (US-PNW). On the center frequencies you'll hear things like "thirty-four thirty five for ABC123" during handoffs, where they drop the leading 1 and the "point." Sometimes my local field tower controller says "Ground point 6" when you leave the active. The worst are the ones who acknowledge clearances with two mic clicks.

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 7:28 am
by gloom
Kinetic wrote:
NINER for 9, still being in use, derives from distinguishing it from German 'Nein', being pronounced just the same, meaning 'no'.


I have been learned that on some occasion, nine would be too close to five (middle section is exactly the same, and we usually depend on sounding voices to recognize). Niner adds a dictinct "er" at the end, thus making those two easily recognizable.

Cheers,
Adam

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 7:34 am
by Starlionblue
Niner is commonly used, but not always.

UK controllers tend to be quite precise, as are the Aussies. In the UK controllers will more frequently use the ICAO standard "flight level two hundred" (three hundred; four hundred) as opposed to the common "flight level two zero zero".

Swedish controllers often use tree and fife, as do other non-native speakers.

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:07 am
by GlenP
From my days, far too long ago to happily admit to these days, as a Bty Sigs Sgt (please allow for attempting to put the actual pronunciation into letters):
0 = ZERO
1 = WUN
2 = TOO
3 = THUREE
4 = FOWER
5 = FIFE
6 = SICKS
7 = SEVEN
8 = ATE
9 = NINER
10 = WUN ZERO

All other numbers follow this pattern, eg. 42 = FOWER TOO, 95 = NINER FIFE. However, on those rare occasions I've listened to non-military nets, and ATC communications more specifically, these conventions aren't employed.

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 5:56 pm
by mjgbtv
I have heard 'TREE' and 'FIFE' on ATC at BTV. Maybe someone with a military background?

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:31 pm
by IAHFLYR
mjgbtv wrote:
I have heard 'TREE' and 'FIFE' on ATC at BTV. Maybe someone with a military background?


Or a controller who like I was is simply messin around with phraseology!! :rotfl: Fife....we'd just say "Barney" as in FIFE. :bouncy:

Seriously, in over 36 years of ATC (military and FAA) I can honestly say, other than being a bit playful with the number stuff I never once said TREE, FIFE or NINER.

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:18 pm
by Kinetic
gloom wrote:
Kinetic wrote:
NINER for 9, still being in use, derives from distinguishing it from German 'Nein', being pronounced just the same, meaning 'no'.


I have been learned that on some occasion, nine would be too close to five (middle section is exactly the same, and we usually depend on sounding voices to recognize). Niner adds a dictinct "er" at the end, thus making those two easily recognizable.

Cheers,
Adam


Yes, you seem to be right. The sources for the other origin are too scarce to be taken into account.

Thanks everyone for the enlightening replies.

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2018 1:19 am
by FlyingJhawk
Boston John was very fond of saying "tree" for three. Man, that guy was one in million.

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2018 12:55 pm
by IAHFLYR
FlyingJhawk wrote:
Boston John was very fond of saying "tree" for three. Man, that guy was one in million.


That's what some of us ATC kids did, just having fun with a fabulous career and like John becoming a "cult hero" so to speak. :)

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2018 4:51 am
by Yikes!
If you fly internationally as a rule, you're safe to use the ICAO pronunciations. More importantly, you'll appreciate the Bangkok or Narita controller using the ICAO pronunciations in their comm's to you! We're spoiled in North America. Don't let it fool you in other parts of the aviation world.

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2018 8:59 am
by zeke
I agree, if you are always flying in environments where most pilots and controllers only have level 4 english, standard phrases and pronunciation is a must to avoid confusion.

It is amusing to hear North American pilots who are irregular visitors in Asia think they are cool by not reading back clearances properly, use non standard calls to make themselves sound slick eg “outter hive point hive four thirti teen ” complaining they controllers are speaking too fast. Those that fly to Asia regularly use standard phraseology, it reduces the paperwork and your stress levels.

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 8:41 am
by strfyr51
Kinetic wrote:
Perhaps I should have introduced the matter differently, naming it the ICAO alphabet, and asking why standard English pronunciation is heard everywhere these days.
Since I'm not flying around the globe, I'd be curious, if there are some places where it is in use.

The Phonetic pronunciation takes into account the differing regional pronunciations of English.

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 8:54 am
by geologyrocks
I’ve never said tree or fife. Niner is a big one though in the states. Niner can be omitted for callsigns involving an air carrier though. So AAL9 is just American Nine. AAL29 could also be twenty nine r two nine. But it’s going to be niner if it’s anything else (general aviation, military, altitude, etc). So N295FF will always be November two niner five foxtrot foxtrot or after initial contact can be called November five foxtrot foxtrot.

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:03 am
by Starlionblue
Combining digits is also based on regional practice. In the US or Australia, they'll happily call Flight 168, "Flight one-sixtyeight", while in most other places we fly it will be "Flight one-six-eight".

strfyr51 wrote:
Kinetic wrote:
Perhaps I should have introduced the matter differently, naming it the ICAO alphabet, and asking why standard English pronunciation is heard everywhere these days.
Since I'm not flying around the globe, I'd be curious, if there are some places where it is in use.

The Phonetic pronunciation takes into account the differing regional pronunciations of English.


More importantly as Yikes! mentions, it allows non-native speakers with strong accents to be understood. For example, the English "th" sounds, found in words like "the" and "three", are very difficult to learn for non-native speakers. Hence "tree" and not "three".

Even for native speakers, the way "nine" is pronounced around the world varies wildly. So does six, but it won't be misunderstood due to the distinctive "ks" at the end.

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:27 am
by Semaex
FlyingJhawk wrote:
Boston John was very fond of saying "tree" for three. Man, that guy was one in million.

That's what I was told to do in flight school. Growing up and flying in a mostly non-english environment, I can totally understand why we do that. Not everybody can do the "TH", and it's better saying TREE than SREE, because the "sr"-sound gives very weird inputs on older microphones and headsets.

LH707330 wrote:
That's awesome. I hear that from Canadian controllers as well. I usually hear "One two one point eight" around my area (US-PNW). On the center frequencies you'll hear things like "thirty-four thirty five for ABC123" during handoffs, where they drop the leading 1 and the "point." Sometimes my local field tower controller says "Ground point 6" when you leave the active. The worst are the ones who acknowledge clearances with two mic clicks.

Wait a second. Acknowledging clearances with mic clicks? That's not just unprofessional, that's plain and simply wrong under any legislation. Clearances always require a read-back.

I feel a bit stupid asking but.... how do you guys pronounciate FIFE? I can in no way picture another pronounciation than 5 / FIVE.
German native, help!
That being said, its a no-brainer for us to say NINER

Regards,

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 12:04 pm
by Starlionblue
Semaex wrote:
FlyingJhawk wrote:
Boston John was very fond of saying "tree" for three. Man, that guy was one in million.

That's what I was told to do in flight school. Growing up and flying in a mostly non-english environment, I can totally understand why we do that. Not everybody can do the "TH", and it's better saying TREE than SREE, because the "sr"-sound gives very weird inputs on older microphones and headsets.

LH707330 wrote:
That's awesome. I hear that from Canadian controllers as well. I usually hear "One two one point eight" around my area (US-PNW). On the center frequencies you'll hear things like "thirty-four thirty five for ABC123" during handoffs, where they drop the leading 1 and the "point." Sometimes my local field tower controller says "Ground point 6" when you leave the active. The worst are the ones who acknowledge clearances with two mic clicks.

Wait a second. Acknowledging clearances with mic clicks? That's not just unprofessional, that's plain and simply wrong under any legislation. Clearances always require a read-back.

I feel a bit stupid asking but.... how do you guys pronounciate FIFE? I can in no way picture another pronounciation than 5 / FIVE.
German native, help!
That being said, its a no-brainer for us to say NINER

Regards,


Acknowledging a clearance should definitely not be done with mic clicks. Readback is the way. However, mic clicks are not uncommon as a response to a standalone "identified" with no other message. (For the record, at my airline I've never heard anyone acknowledge "identified" with anything but the call sign.)

FIFE is pronounced "fie", rhymes with "pie" followed by "ff" as in the first letter of "funk" in German.

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 12:20 pm
by Semaex
Starlionblue wrote:
FIFE is pronounced "fie", rhymes with "pie" followed by "ff" as in the first letter of "funk" in German.


For the love of God, I still can't make it anything else than FIVE. I look rediculous trying to make it sounds different :lol:

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 5:23 pm
by flipdewaf
Semaex wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
FIFE is pronounced "fie", rhymes with "pie" followed by "ff" as in the first letter of "funk" in German.


For the love of God, I still can't make it anything else than FIVE. I look rediculous trying to make it sounds different :lol:


Fife like life or knife or wife

Five like live, hive, jive

Fred

Re: NATO Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation for Numbers

Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 5:48 pm
by LH707330
Starlionblue wrote:
Semaex wrote:
FlyingJhawk wrote:
Boston John was very fond of saying "tree" for three. Man, that guy was one in million.

That's what I was told to do in flight school. Growing up and flying in a mostly non-english environment, I can totally understand why we do that. Not everybody can do the "TH", and it's better saying TREE than SREE, because the "sr"-sound gives very weird inputs on older microphones and headsets.

LH707330 wrote:
That's awesome. I hear that from Canadian controllers as well. I usually hear "One two one point eight" around my area (US-PNW). On the center frequencies you'll hear things like "thirty-four thirty five for ABC123" during handoffs, where they drop the leading 1 and the "point." Sometimes my local field tower controller says "Ground point 6" when you leave the active. The worst are the ones who acknowledge clearances with two mic clicks.

Wait a second. Acknowledging clearances with mic clicks? That's not just unprofessional, that's plain and simply wrong under any legislation. Clearances always require a read-back.

I feel a bit stupid asking but.... how do you guys pronounciate FIFE? I can in no way picture another pronounciation than 5 / FIVE.
German native, help!
That being said, its a no-brainer for us to say NINER

Regards,


Acknowledging a clearance should definitely not be done with mic clicks. Readback is the way. However, mic clicks are not uncommon as a response to a standalone "identified" with no other message. (For the record, at my airline I've never heard anyone acknowledge "identified" with anything but the call sign.)

FIFE is pronounced "fie", rhymes with "pie" followed by "ff" as in the first letter of "funk" in German.


Totally agree on the mic clicks, that's mostly old-school GA pilots. Takeoff and landing clearances are almost always read back correctly.

Regarding "FIFE," the German spelling would be "Feif," similar to the term for "whistle" ("Pfeife"), but with the trailing "e" omitted. That reminded me of this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9pVCFYndFg :D